Request represents first time the Commission has directly pressed Ankara to end its campaign denying the Armenian genocide
BRUSSELS (EAFJD)–In an unprecedented move welcomed by the European Armenian Federation–the President of the European Commission–Jose Manuel Barroso–has directly called on Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide.
Speaking at Harvard University–Barroso said if considering Europe’s social and economic future–Turkey could potentially prove to be an important state. He stressed–however–that its treatment of national minorities and the Kurdish issue still remain a very delicate matter.
"National minorities in Turkey constantly face infringement of their human rights," he said–pointing to the case against writer Orhan Pamuk–an "inadmissible step from the standpoint of freedom of speech."
Pamuk is scheduled to go on trial in December on charges of insulting Turks–stemming from commen’s in an interview where he said that Turks had killed one million Armenia’s and 30,000 Kurds.
In speaking about Europe-Turkey relations–Barroso said Ankara is developing relations with Greece and should adopt a similarly constructive approach toward Armenia–stressing that Turkey "should acknowledge the reality of the Armenian genocide."
"Turkey should refrain from [a] simplified attitude towards the Armenian issue. Europeans dislike the words ‘there was no Genocide.’ Ankara’s best move would be the acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide and opening the borders with Armenia."
The European Armenian Federation lauded the European leader’s commen’s: "We welcome the unprecedented statement by Mr. Barroso as both a reflection of true European values and a return to a principled approach on the part of the European Commission and the European Union. With this declaration by the Commission’s president–the three main bodies of the EU–the Parliament–Commission–and Council–have all taken a common stand–a firm position that can no longer be ignored by Turkey," chairwoman Hilda Tchoboian said on Wednesday.
"We expect that this renewed determination on the part of European institutions will impress on Turkey that regional peace and stability require that Turkey come to terms with its responsibilities for the Armenian genocide," she continued.
Tchoboian indicated the next step for the Federation would be toward getting the Commission to incorporate the deman’s into the relevant chapters of existing European Union law–as well as the screening process for Turkey’s EU application.